This trips for teens post was written by my daughter, Ainsley, 16. Together, we visited many of these destinations while on hosted media trips. Post contains affiliate links to tours and destinations we recommend.
Over the past few months, during the pandemic, I can’t help but dwell upon how much I enjoy travelling. Travelling is one of my favourite things to do, and I know not every individual my age gets that opportunity. I know that I am lucky, because my mom’s job is one of the coolest jobs around.
My mom is a travel writer, so her life is packed with fun, joy, extraordinary memories, and so much love. Luckily, I get to travel with her a fair bit and today I wanted to talk about six of my favourite trips. Some are trips I have taken with my Mom and others are ones we have done as a family.
Personally, I think these are some of the most amazing trips for families. They make great trips for teens to take with their families too.
Best Trips for Teens and Families
Most of the places I have been to with my family are in the United States, so it’s hard to see the border closed right now during the pandemic.
The USA is so vast and with 50 distinct states, (plus a Federal District, DC . some territories and islands ) there’s a lot to see and do. In fact, the size and scope of the USA is dramatic.
Some Midwestern states are kind of viewed as fly over states. I think that people count Missouri as one of those fly over states sometimes, but I feel that does the state a disservice.
Missouri is an amazing outdoorsy state full of fun activities. That’s why it’s on my list as one of the best trips for teens. It’s one of my favourites. In fact, I would return to Missouri yearly, if I could make that happen.
While I was only in Missouri for about six days, I felt at home fast. We visited three Central Missouri cities after flying in to St. Louis via Detroit. Each city we visited in Central Missouri felt completely original.
First, up was Columbia, Missouri. We had picked up a car to drive throughout our trip and so, after checking in we met up with Central Missouri’s PR person, Marjorie, and together we went biking in nearby Rocheport. Unfortunately, there was a bit of flooding so we couldn’t do the hike we had planned on the Katy Trail (maybe next time..) as sandbags were keeping the water at bay. I found it interesting to see the sandbags actually as that’s not a thing you see in landlocked London Ontario.
We stopped for lunch in Rocheport and enjoyed a Fried Green Tomato sandwich, which was incredibly good and a first for us. Then, from there it was off to see a winery.
Over the next two days, we enjoyed walking through downtown Columbia, exploring the stores and the University of Missouri campus. Together, my Mom and I went hiking. Then, we found a great little bookstore, loved Shakespeare’s Pizza, enjoyed a shake at Sparky’s Ice Cream Parlour, and had breakfast at mysterious Ernie’s. We found the city to be pretty walkable.
Lake of the Ozarks
From there, we drove to Lake of the Ozarks. Haha Tonka State Park is stunning and I think it is the coolest name of any spot we have ever visited. We hiked the trails in the park and took photos of the castle ruins in the afternoon. Take your bug spray.
By far, my favourite part of the trip, was fishing for bass with Big Ed on the lake. Spending only a short time on his boat is something I will recall forever. We caught five fish, which was two more than the other couple that was traveling with us. So, we won and that’s all that mattered. Just kidding.
Big Ed was kind and seemed to be used to kids of all ages. He gave me a hat and a fishing lure. I treasured that time and wear my hat at least 3-4 times a week. While I only get to fish once or twice a year I enjoy it and find it relaxing, so this was a highlight for me. Also, did you know that this is a popular US destination for anglers?
Our first helicopter ride EVER with Lake Ozark Helicopters was pretty dope and we saw all of the coastline from above. The pilot of the helicopter was literally the only dude I know who could rock a man bun. Let’s just say you will enjoy this ride even more because of the pilot.
While in Lake of the Ozarks, we stayed at Old Kinderhook, which was a spacious resort on a golf course. Golfing for the first time was harder than it looks actually. We got to do a golf lesson with the golf pro there and we enjoyed driving a golf cart for a bit. Trips for teens should always include something active and Missouri had fishing, helicopter rides, golfing and good food.
Finally, we went to Fulton and stayed at a Bed and Breakfast, where Margaret Thatcher once stayed. (I wasn’t really sure who that was until my Mom explained she was a Prime Minister in England way before I was born.) I have never stayed in a Bed and Breakfast before. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it once I got used to the idea of being a guest in someone’s home overnight. The owner of the B and B was kind and soft spoken.
From there, we went to the Churchill Museum. That was a highlight for me, because the museum was well done and even though we had to kind of race through it, we took a lot of photos. The nearby university campus is where Churchill gave a famous Iron Curtain speech. There’s also a chunk of the Berlin Wall outside the museum.
Later, we all went shopping again and and also we had an incredible meal at Bek’s restaurant. The beef melted in your mouth, while the appetizers were just right. The atmosphere and the company all get a ten out of ten. Missouri people we met were so sweet and welcoming.
Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
Our first visit to Smugglers’ Notch was to ski, but in 2019 we got to visit in the summer, which was extraordinary. It was our first time returning since skiing there in 2017. When we went skiing in 2017, I met Martha, a ski school supervisor who did kid’s lessons. The things she taught me then still are with me every single time I ski.
She told me things like: You are in control of your skis. The mountain is not in control. I still apply all the ski lessons she taught me because they are useful, even when I am skiing at home on the smaller hills.
Martha was very invested in all of us and as she clearly loved her job. She told us stories, remembered all of our names and clearly enjoyed her job. When I went back last summer and met her again it was so wonderful to see her there. Smuggs feels very homey always and it’s like they are always waiting there with open arms.
Some ski resorts sometimes feel like it’s a bunch of teenagers working part time as a job but Smugglers’ Notch never feels like that. Also, in the summer we used the waterslides and my sister and I enjoyed the teen lounge. Honestly, I made friends in the summer last year with people I still am in contact with – other teens in New York and New Jersey. We FaceTime often and we have plans to meet again at Smuggs.
Bromley in Vermont
I got to spend my birthday here one year. I think that I turned fourteen and literally skied all that day, so can’t imagine a much better day than that. And yet, we also managed to drive into Manchester and go grocery shopping. It’s the cutest little town with restaurants, shops and more. We picked up a confetti birthday cake and also some ramen noodles and, although my Mom laughs about that, it was an excellent birthday meal.
Bromley was just the right size for me. We only started skiing in 2015, so when we were at Bromley Mountain Ski Resort in 2018, it was our third winter of skiing. I felt like it was challenging enough and at that time, after three years of skiing, I hit my stride here skiing well, without the wobbly skier’s legs and remembered all of the lessons that I’d been taught at all of the other ski resorts. So, this ski vacation was memorable for me.
Listen, for me skiing is always a great idea and I love it. If you are hunting for good ways to keep your kids active then consider Bromley because it is one of my favourite trips for teens and families.
The museums in Philly are amazing and we had a great time on our mother daughter trip to Philadelphia in 2018. Loved that we were able to take the Philly Phlash, or walk to so many museums and see dinosaur exhibits and more natural history. Drexel University Museum of Natural History was my personal favourite, along with the Rocky Stairs.
The tigers at Philadelphia Zoo were pretty cool, because they have an overhead structure that they can walk through which puts them above you as you walk through the open zoo grounds.
Finally, Don’t MISS these destinations and tours in Philly
DO NOT MISS One Liberty Observation Deck for the best views of the city. This costs extra, but the price is worth it.
- > Get tickets now to One Liberty Observation Deck.
We had an extra night in Philly because our flight was delayed so we had a bit of extra time and used that to tour the Eastern State Penitentiary, which was old and historical and a little bit creepy. The audio tour was really impressive.
- > Want a comprehensive Philly Tour via the Hop On Hop Off Bus? Highly recommend this one – > HOP ON AND HOP OFF Philly Tour
Let’s be honest. Most trips for teens include at least one visit to a shopping mall. Right before we left, we headed to a mall. I bought some awesome Adidas runners and we went into Bloomingdale’s and asked for Rachel Green. LOL.
Ontario Parks RV Tour
In 2018, my family embarked on our first ever RV trip! This was never boring and such great family time. We did five parks in five days in September of 2018. The scenery in Northern Ontario is unparalleled. Together, we picked up an RV and drove from outside Markham to Grundy Lake, then we parked and went to sleep just in time to wake and go hiking at Swan Lake the next morning. Also, one of our last parks was Killarney, which had just received Dark Sky Preserve status. We made it just for their first ever Dark Sky Party.
At Killarney one night, they offered a presentation about dark skies and also numerous astronomers brought their high power telescopes so we could all see the constellations and planets. The dark sky party presentation was extremely educational. I think about it often when looking at the stars and the sky above. Basically, light pollution makes it harder to see the stars, planets and constellations and it’s not particularly good for the environment. So turn your lights off and angle them down, not up outside.
This was one of my favourite trips because I also spent time with my older sister, Payton and we all got along. It was constant hiking and campfires and setting up and exploring. That was ideal. I’d happily do this again and recommend it as one of the best ideas when it comes to trips for teens to take with their families.
A huge part of the charm of a ski resort is determined by the people. We have always felt like Sugarbush near Waitsfield Vermont is a home away from home. The staff at Sugarbush are so friendly and the terrain is exceptional. With three peaks, there’s unlimited opportunities to test your ability and ski all day long.
Twice we stayed at Sugarbush Inn and we genuinely love the staff. Plus the set up is perfect for families. We had two adjoining rooms which was just the right amount of privacy. Also, Fit to be Thai’d inside the Sugarbush Inn has fantastic Thai food.
Mount Ellen is one of the highest mountains at any ski resort that we have ever done and the Slidebrook Express Quad is kind of a quirky lift to ride at least once, even if it does take a long time and it’s minus 30 out.
While, we are currently not able to travel easily or safely, and I miss it so much, I look forward to having more adventures in the future. My hope is that I can eventually see even more states over time (maybe even all of them!) and I can’t wait for ski season again.
In the meantime, while we are all still dreaming of travel again, make note of my favourite trips for teens. When it’s safe again, let’s get exploring!
Where will you go first?